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Executive Board 2012-2014
Immediate Past President
Chair of Nominating and Finance Committees
Vice Chair of Nominating
Royalyn R. Vert
1st Vice President
VP Development & Special Projects
VP Marketing & Communication
Lisa Elyn Semen
WRJ Board Members
Kallah Information and Registration
WRJ Assembly Highlights
District President's Message
Dear WRJ Central District Women,
It was a real privilege to attend the WRJ Assembly this past December in San Diego. We had 56 Central District women attend the Assembly, which is a good number since we had to travel so far. Instead of just expressing my feelings, I asked all the women on the WRJ Central District Executive committee who attended the meeting to write a paragraph about their experience. I have taken pieces from their writings and included them in the article below.
WRJ Central District is looking forward to our 1st Kallah (retreat). The Kallah replaces our Interim meeting. The dates are March 21-23 at GUCI Camp. There is information in this issue and a link, so you can register. You have a choice to stay at camp or in a nearby hotel. 1st Vice President Sandy Adland has planned a great weekend for us. We will learn about WRJ Camps and GUCI in particular. We will have all meetings and meals at camp. There will be Shabbat services, plenaries, an Executive Committee meeting, much WRJ and WRJ Central information shared with you during the weekend and a YES Fund fundraiser. There will be walking, talking and sharing.
Sisters, come join us and enjoy our RETREAT!
WRJ Central District
Gather round the campfire, March 21-23, 2014
for an exciting and fun-filled weekend at GUCI!
Authentic Camp Shabbat Experience including worship, dinner, song session, Israeli dancing and campfire!
- Info sessions on our URJ Camps, GUCI, and WRJ!
- Informative workshops to strengthen your sisterhood!
- Social Action project!
- YES Fund "Next to New" Shopping Event!
- Sharing together, laughing together, and meeting new sisters!
GUCI can accommodate up to 50 overnight guests in their faculty housing. Reservations will be first come, first served. Rooms are double occupancy with a bathroom en suite or between two rooms. Linens are provided.
Additionally, a block of rooms has also been reserved for WRJ Central District at the Holiday Inn Express, 9797 N. Michigan Rd., Carmel, IN. The phone number is: (317) 661-3540.
Click here to see an agenda for the weekend.
Click here for a registration form!
Thoughts about WRJ Assembly
December 11-15, 2013
San Diego, California
Central District Attendees at the San Diego Assembly
What a joyous time we had in San Diego at the WRJ/URJ Biennial! These are the thoughts of some of our amazing women in WRJ Central District. Thank you to Sheilah Abramson-Miles, Sandy Adland, Judy Berzof, Laurie Blinder, Cindy Bolokofsky, Pamela Feldman-Hill, Lucy Gersten, and Rachel Lambermont for contributing to this article and being such an important part of our WRJ Central District.
It is always a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with sisters from across North America. We meet amazing women who are working toward the same purposes for WRJ.
This Assembly was particularly special. We celebrated the end of our first 100 years and the beginning of the next century. It was especially meaningful to have so many opportunities to reflect on the inspiring past of Women of Reform Judaism, and to see how so much of the work undertaken by our past members has defined our movement today, including the origin of NFTY and continuing support of Hebrew Union College.
Some of the Assembly's highlights were: celebrating Shabbat with nearly 5000 other Jews, dancing in the aisles to Miriam's Song with WRJ sisters from near and far, listening to a wide variety of great Jewish music, hearing addresses from, to name a few, Rabbi David Ellenson, Anat Hoffman and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, our first-time-ever WRJ Assembly Choir led by Julie Silver, WRJ receiving the Maurice N. Eisendrath "Bearer of Light Award," one of the Reform Movement's most prestigious honors, celebrating NFTY's 75th anniversary and the Cantor's 60th anniversary, and celebrating the YES Fund accomplishments at the YES Fund breakfast,
WRJ celebrated the beginning of the next 100 years with a beautiful WRJ Installation. We said thank you to Lynn Magid Lazar for her excellent leadership as our WRJ President and welcomed Blair Marks to the presidency. We were thrilled with so many WRJ Central District women being installed on the WRJ Board.
To paraphrase Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ President, as he presented the "Bearer of Light Award," "If you want to know what the Reform Movement will be doing in the future, look at what WRJ is doing today."
The next 100 years will prove to be an extension of our successes. Our leaders are planning for the future ahead with new ideas and increased spirit.
We are truly STRONGER TOGETHER.
The 2013 Assembly Through the Eyes of a First-Timer
Having never attended anything like this before, my expectations were limited. I had hoped to learn a little, to connect a little and maybe even shop a little. I felt fortunate & privileged be representing our Sisterhood with such a great group of women, unique in their own way, bringing something different and dynamic along with them.
I attended the Webinar for first timers, giving me basic information to help navigate my way through the WRJ Assembly. I was assigned Laurie Blinder, an experienced past attendee, as a mentor to answer any questions. I spoke to my own big sister Rosanne Fienman in detail about her biennial experiences. And finally, I attended a Pre-Assembly planning meeting with the other woman going to the Biennial, where all questions could be answered. Helpful as those steps were, nothing could have prepared me for the experience.
The workshops were inspiring. I felt an instant fire to return and put into action some of the easy (and free) social media marketing ideas I learned about. The forums were insightful and gave opportunities to hear interesting speakers and learn about new ideas, food for thought or other areas of focus currently going on within WRJ and/or URJ. The WJR plenaries is where the organization handled its business, much like our board meetings. They were run effectively and I was impressed with the process. With 500 plus delegates in attendance, all points of view (both pro and con) could be heard without interruption or resentment, so that thoughtful decisions could be made to benefit the greater organization.
The joint URJ/WRJ plenaries were amazing too. We heard Keynote speakers such as Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ President and Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center and Chairwoman of Women of the Wall, with words that moved me from laughter to tears, not to mention the abundance of Jewish musical talent throughout our stay.
The YES Fund Breakfast was exhilarating. It was an honor to be there and feel the love from the people who have benefited from the YES fund and witness the generosity within our community.
The WRJ installation was a moving celebration of 100 years of Sisterhood, made even more beautiful by the addition of a choir, which included our own Linda Mickelson.
But for me, nothing compared to the powerfully stirring Shabbat Services. Not your everyday Torah Service, but 13 Torahs being chanted simultaneously. Add to that, the honor of an Aliyah with the women of WRJ and a dynamic "STorah" teller, Amichai Lau-Lavie, who translated the ancient words to modern life and you've got something really special. The contagious positive energy and joyful spirit generated, when more than 5000 good hearted Jewish souls came together to pray was immeasurable. The connection is like nothing I've ever been part of and I am still blown away by the experience.
The biennial exceeded my expectations in every way.
I never expected to be so uplifted and feel so connected to 5000 strangers.
I never expected to be so physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted.
I never expected to be so re-energized to make our common Sisterhood goals a reality.
But mostly, I never expected to feel such strong bonds of Sisterhood with the amazing women who took such good care of me for 5 whirlwind days.
I also felt blessed to have been learned a few meaningful personal lessons while there.
It's important to let those you love & care about; love & care about you.
Be yourself, after all, it's our different strengths that have made it possible for Women of Reform Judaism to accomplish great things for the last 100 years.
Miracles do happen.
To Laurie Blinder: Thank You for being a solid voice of wisdom and experience, and giving me a giggle every time I thought we would have to microchip you with GPS so we wouldn't lose you at a plenary or services. J
To Wendy Kohlenberg: Thank you for your positive attitude, your sense of humor and making sure I didn't eat too much, by always helping me clear my plate. J
To Julie Stern: Thank you for being such a great example of what keeping a positive attitude can achieve and for even sharing the aisle seat with me every now and then at gatherings. J
To Linda Mickelson: Thank you for investing so much of your personal time preparing for the choir, the music was beautiful and I am still in awe of your energy and ability to take full advantage of all the Biennial had to offer. J
To Cherie Blazofsky: Thank you for making me laugh (sometimes until the tears ran down my leg), for being a great concierge and always being sure I knew how many armed police men were in the convention center at all times. J
To Lynn Apel: Thank you for always having your radar out for our group, making sure everyone was good to go. Thank you, being a great roommate, a great friend, and for always telling me I looked fine after each hot flash. Most of all, thank you for reminding me that it's each of our uniqueness that makes us stronger together. J
Finally, thank you to the women of Temple Israel Sisterhood and the Sisterhood Leadership, who recognized the importance of these experiences and made this opportunity possible for our board.
Temple Israel Sisterhood
West Bloomfield, Michigan
The WRJ Assembly Through the Eyes of An Experienced Attendee
The WRJ Centennial Assembly was a joy and a privilege to attend and represent the Women of Temple Israel. I cannot express my gratitude for supporting my attendance and allowing me to experience all that is an Assembly.
WRJ was celebrated, honored, blessed and loved the entire Assembly and the URJ like no other time in my 20 years of attending. I can see the gratitude and status that the URJ has come to rain upon us (WRJ) for all the benefits WRJ brings to the table of Reform and Progressive Judaism here in North America and around the world.
WRJ was instrumental in providing Rabbinic education at first, then Cantorial and Jewish Communal Workers education as HUC-JIR expanded. WRJ was instrumental in creating NFTY and the Jewish camping experience. The scholarships our Sisterhood works so hard to fund pays dividends when these campers grow up to be the leaders in our Rabbis, Cantors, Educators, Executive Directors, Congregational Presidents and Sisterhood leaders.
WRJ was instrumental in creating resolutions that stewarded the women's movement, voting rights for women and all people, civil rights, workers' rights, children's' rights and making sure the progressive Jewish movement was heard in Washington D.C. and around the world.
All of our 100 years of accomplishments were heralded as WRJ was presented with the Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award by URJ for Service to Reform Jewry. What at honor for our newly installed President, Blair Marks to accept this prestigious award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Reform Movement.
We heard from the leaders of our movement, Rabbi David Ellenson, who is retiring from HUC-JIR at the YES Fund Breakfast. His blessings and gratitude for all WRJ does for the movement was touching and real. He spoke of Carrie O. Simon, the founder of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, for which our Sisterhood is a founding member, that Carrie worked on one goal at a time, focused and assertive. Rabbi Ellenson said, "for the sake of righteous women the children of Israel were redeemed from slavery in Egypt".
We heard from the URJ President, Rabbi Rick Jacobs who was so inspiring. He spoke of audacious hospitality being of the synagogue, not necessarily in the synagogue. All 5000 attendees to the WRJ Assembly and URJ Biennial could take tidbits and bring small but strong messages back to their congregations and auxiliaries.
We also heard multiple times that our Centennial is our triumph, and the future is ours to create. No greater or heavy words were spoken. What does the next 100 years mean for WRJ, or for our Sisterhood, for that matter.
What will be our next focus, purpose, one goal? These are questions that will be asked over and over by the WRJ leadership and The Women of Temple Israel. We are poised to do great things, because we have done them in the past.
May the Women of Reform Judaism find purpose in the future, continue to work for Reform Judaism and our congregations, find strength in other women both in North America and our own communities and always march forward with linked arms and hearts. May we be blessed with ideas, courage to make hard decisions and sisterhood with our members to create that future. May this be God's will.
WRJ Board of Directors
Great Things are Happening in Our Sisterhoods
Centennial Project: 100 Mitzvahs for 100 Years
Temple Kol Ami Sisterhood in West Bloomfield, Michigan chose to use the WRJ Centennial Year as an opportunity to launch a new activity that we hope will continue on past 2013. We initiated a "100 Mitzvahs for 100 Years" project. We started in October at our Paid-up Membership Tea. As Centennial Ambassador, I brought a heart-shaped box to the Tea filled with 100 cards that had "suggested" mitzvahs written on them. These were acts of kindness, good deeds, helpful gestures and things that we often already do without being asked. I walked the box around to each attendee and asked each one to pick one or two mitzvah cards from the box and do what the card said. If the person happened to pick something that she simply couldn't or did not want to do, I let her put the card back in and pick again. I instructed them to email me back once they performed their mitzvah. I asked them to tell me what they did and how doing it made them feel. It was my hope that by the end of the 100th year (2013) we would have 100 mitzvahs done and accounted for. We plan to compile the email messages into an on-line journal for all to see. Once we have 100 we will launch year 101 and catalog even more mitzvahs.
Everyone has embraced this and I am receiving Mitzvah stories and reports often. Our "from the heart of Sisterhood" 100 Mitzvahs for 100 Years is a going concern. And because our Temple and our Sisterhood are so committed to Social Action and doing good deeds, this project was a natural.
Temple Kol Ami Sisterhood
West Bloomfield, Michigan
Wine and Chocolate Fundraiser
Temple Beth El Sisterhood in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan held a Wine and Chocolate fundraiser in November to benefit Mitzvah Meals, which is a program at our temple to provide food for families in our area at the end of each month. Recipients receive fresh meats, vegetables, dairy and canned goods for a family of four for a week when assistance funds have run out. The program partners with a local market to supply the food at a discount and volunteers distribute the food.
We visited, e-mailed or contacted by phone 300 venues with 120 returning our calls with donations. We put some of the donations together into auction packages ranging from getaways, family four packs of fun, restaurant samplers with gift cards to each restaurant, girls day out, and evenings at home with wine, chocolates, a good book and candles, to name a few. We worked with a wine distributor that helped to secure donated wine for tasting. We also had 3 chocolate companies set up tables to give samples, and we had a local coffee shop owned by a Chazzan who gave free samples at the end of the night. We had music entertainment and sold wine that was tasted during the evening. Guests walked around to look at the auctions items and bid on them. We sold 80 baskets.
For people who couldn't attend the event, we had little grocery bags that we put on a poster with the donor's name for each $30.00 donation they made to feed a family for a week. We charged $15.00 per person to cover the cost of fruit, coffee, cheese and crackers charged to us by our caterer. Everyone enjoyed themselves, and thought we should do it again. We raised $6,700 from the event. Our sisterhood donates to the Mitzvah Meal Program every year and this was our way of giving a donation without dipping into our operating budget. If we do it again next year we will keep some of the profits for our sisterhood.
All in all, it was a great evening!
Temple Beth El Sisterhood
Bloomfield Hills, MI
Send us Your Nominations for District Awards!
Sisterhoods, individuals, and the district will be honored with the awards listed below at our Central District Biennial Convention in Columbus, November 6-9, 2014. As leaders in your sisterhood, please take a few minutes to read through the award categories and nominate your sisterhood or individual. Award applications are due by August 1st, 2014.
For award application forms, click here or find them at www.wrjcentral.org.
Individual sisterhoods may apply for awards in both the President's Award and the Innovative Programming Award categories and may submit an application for more than one program in either category. Award entries in these two categories are separated by size of sisterhoods: small (1-99 members); medium, (100-299 members); and large, (300+ members). In addition, every sisterhood may select one of its members to receive a Deborah Honor in recognition of service to her sisterhood. Finally, a woman from within the Central District will be chosen for the Emerging Leader Award. Nominations can be received from a sisterhood or the District for this one honor.
Innovative Programming Award
This award recognizes a sisterhood in each of the categories of small, medium, and large for an innovative, energizing, and original program.
The Central District President determines the theme of this award. This biennium, the President's Award recognizes a sisterhood in each of the categories of small, medium and large for a program or event which focused on and celebrated the WRJ Centennial.
District Emerging Leader Award
One sisterhood woman from within the Central District will receive this award. A sisterhood may nominate a woman who exemplifies the strengths and has shown the skills, abilities, and willingness to accept a leadership role in her sisterhood, Central District, or WRJ in the recent time frame. This should be someone new to a leadership role.
This award recognizes one woman from each sisterhood who has demonstrated extraordinary service and commitment to both sisterhood and Judaism based upon criteria established by the sisterhood. Each woman nominated by her sisterhood to receive the Deborah Honor will be given a Deborah certificate.
This award is given to the woman awards in all categories of Programming, President's Award, Emerging Leader and Deborah Honoree.
The three (small, medium, and large) sisterhoods winning the Innovative Programming Award, the three (small, medium, and large) sisterhoods winning the President's Award, and the one woman winning the District Emerging Leader Award will each receive a Chai Five or a $90 credit toward a District event to be used on or before the next District Convention.
Programs must occur between November 2012 and November 2014. The deadline to submit an application is August 1, 2014.
Simply download the application to your computer, fill it out, and send it as an attachment to WRJ Central District Awards Chair, Cindy Bolokofsky,
Applications may also be filled out and mailed to
4800 Cider Hill Dr.
Rochester Hills, MI 48306
Any questions, call Cindy at 248-431-8536.
WRJ Central District
About Isha L'Isha
Isha L'Isha is our attempt to communicate with you and your membership. Take the opportunity to talk to us and your area director; tell us your success stories and words of wisdom about communicating with your membership, temple and community.
Our website is www.WRJCentral.org.
Our Facebook page is
Also, please take the time to visit our Blog, named "Sharing the Best"
and let us know what you and your sisterhood have been doing. Register and then write your brief story. The blog is mediated, which means whatever you enter, the items have to be approved before they show up on the blog, but this is a wonderful opportunity to share and boast and get great ideas.
Send articles and images to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please submit articles for the April Issue of Isha L'Isha on or before March 15.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
WRJ Central District Bulletin Editor